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  • Jo Selman-Smith

Ini Archibong provides exclusive access to London Design Biennale for Shadow To Shine

Updated: Jun 18, 2021

A group of young creatives in London were the first to receive an exclusive VIP tour of the London Design Biennale at Somerset House, facilitated and carried out by designer Ini Archibong. The young people, aged between 16-24 years old and all interested in pursuing creative vocations, were found by Ini through youth charity Shadow To Shine, which aims to connect young people facing systemic barriers to their dream careers.

As part of the tour, the group were taken around the Biennale entries from across the globe and received a personal welcome and overview of the exhibition by Director Victoria Broackes. The tour ended at Ini's groundbreaking Pavilion of the African Diaspora, where he sat down with the young people to discuss his professional journey as a creative, how he gets his inspiration as well as the pavilion itself.

Shadow To Shine mentees receive a personal welcome from Victoria Brookes

Behind the imposing sail structure that towers high in the courtyard of Somerset House lies a powerful message: the resounding contribution of Black voices emanating throughout history and into the future. As the pavilion was unveiled, Ini expressed his desire for it to be a space for storytelling and collaboration between voices of the diaspora, which his gesture providing the tour serves as a testament to.

Ini sits down with Shadow To Shine by the Pavilion of the African Diaspora

In conversation with Shadow To Shine’s mentees, Ini spoke of how he’d originally thought he was going to be a banker, but wanted to do something that aligned with who he truly was. “As creatives, we have the power to create special places in our minds, places that offer hope and joy and respite. It is our job to bring these places to life, no one else can do that job for you.”

Despite his continued references to the group of aspiring designers and artists as his “competition”, Ini had no trouble sharing his insider secrets for success. “You have to work tirelessly, ceaselessly. You have to work so much harder than the person next to you. But you don’t let it get to you, you let it motivate you. If you become the best ‘you’ that you know you can, no one else can criticise you [...] My biggest inspiration came about when I decided that everything I made was for the benefit of everyone else. That allowed me to exist.”

My biggest inspiration came about when I decided that everything I made was for the benefit of everyone else. That allowed me to exist.”

The uplifting tone and motivational message of Ini’s talk meant it was not just his art that served to benefit others. Everything about the day centred on inclusivity, respect and listening to each other’s contributions in a setting permeated with examples of design to change the world for good.

Having begun the tour at the Forest For Change, where the group recorded their voices to reverberate around the installation with messages of hope for a better world; from start to finish the young people were reminded of the importance their own voice carries.

Golda Kesse (pictured above), one of Shadow To Shine’s mentees who is a UX Designer and self-taught artist said of the day, “It was such a pleasure meeting Ini Archibong. It was a great opportunity to meet a senior designer and tap into his mind. It's not everyday you get to meet a creative genius dropping such gems."

"The day was so intimate and the size of the group allowed us to get to know him properly - we spoke 1-2-1 and he shared some great advice. I left feeling so inspired and rejuvenated. I'd like to also use this opportunity to say thank you for allowing this to happen, it's been one of my highlights of this year.”

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